Mosquito Atlas: Public is Asked to Help Map Biting Insects
Enlarge image Biologist Ina Pokorny holds a box with preserved mosquito specimens for the mosquito atlas. (© picture alliance / dpa) The Internet portal of the German Mosquito Atlas has been very well received so far. The website is an initiative from the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) in Müncheberg in the state of Brandenburg, which surrounds the German capital of Berlin. “We went online at the end of April. So far, the public has already sent in 350 mosquitoes,” biologist Doreen Werner of the ZALF told the dapd. The Mosquito Atlas portal has already been accessed over 20,000 times, she said. The information sent in should provide valuable evidence for the spread of mosquitoes in Germany.
Mosquitoes that have come to Germany as a result of climate change could bring pathogens with them, Werner said. In addition, it is possible that pathogens introduced from abroad could subsequently be spread by native mosquitoes. Research on mosquitoes in Germany has been neglected over the last few decades, making the available data outdated, Werner claimed. There are now joint programs to map the occurrence of mosquitoes in Germany and to shed light upon their role as disease carriers at the ZALF and the federal Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI).
“Nationwide we have set up mosquito traps at over 100 locations,” said Werner. These traps can, however, only supply a small sample. The contributions of individuals help to complete this network, said Werner. “For the distribution maps, every mosquito counts,” she emphasized. There are 49 species of mosquitoes in Germany.
“Our approach is to find out where and when particular species of mosquito occur,” she said. The aim is then to compile statistics on what the most common species of mosquito are in Germany, which species are disease carriers and where and when they frequently appear. “In subsequent research we will concentrate on these [disease carrying] species,” the biologist said. Researchers expect people to send in many samples in the fall as well. “We need intact mosquitoes that were carefully caught in a container,” Werner said. Ideally the insect ought to be placed for a short time in the freezer and then posted in a sealed jar, she advised.